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Farms to food markets: providing solutions and collective action for sustainable food systems

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Sustainable food systems

Sustainable food systems have a positive effect. Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto


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  • The world may be facing the worst food crisis in decades.
  • The Food Action Alliance supports 29 flagship initiatives that are transforming sustainable food systems.
  • Over 40 partners are engaged in providing healthy, nutritious and safe foods in ways that safeguard our planet.

The impact of improving sustainable food systems.

From the Colombian Amazon to Southern Africa, the Food Action Alliance (FAA), hosted by the World Economic Forum, is transforming the way food is produced, processed, consumed, and disposed of through multistakeholder partnerships and investments.

This work aims to ensure economic and social inclusion with a focus on women and youth, while providing healthy, nutritious, and safe foods in a way that safeguards our planet, conserves natural resources and builds resilience against future shocks.

The Food Action Alliance currently supports a growing portfolio of 29 flagship initiatives that are transforming and improving sustainable food systems. Examples of these projects include:

Transforming the dairy industry in East AfricaRolling out regenerative agriculture models and reducing food waste on farms in ColombiaIncreasing access to digital technologies to boost harvests in South-East Asia

The alliance is working across four hubs in Africa, Latin America, India and South-East Asia. Engaged stakeholders include partners from both the public and private sector, such as: Cargill, UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD), Nestlé, PepsiCo, Rabobank, Syngenta Group, Unilever, UPL, Yara, World Farmers Organization, and WWF.

At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022, the Government of Rwanda joined the Food Action Alliance and stepped forward to co-lead and host the alliance’s global secretariat and regional secretariat for Africa in Kigali. And at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023, the Government of Tanzania also joined the Food Action Alliance, under the leadership of H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan.

What's the challenge with sustainable food systems?

The world may be facing the worst food crisis in decades, driven by the compounded effects of COVID-19, climate change and conflicts such as the war in Ukraine, exacerbating already skyrocketing food and energy prices and severe hunger.

Food systems are complex and currently unsustainable. Enough food is produced to feed the world, but 811 million people — more than 10 per cent of the world's population — still go to sleep hungry each night.

The global food system is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases. Globally, food production is linked to 70% of biodiversity loss on land. As the human population grows, these impacts will only increase.

Sustainably nourishing a global population of 9.7 billion by 2050, while meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), will require food systems that are inclusive, sustainable, efficient, nutritious and healthy.

Our approach to sustainable food.

The Food Action Alliance was launched during the Sustainable Development Impact Summit 2019 by the World Economic Forum, International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Rabobank, and today engages over 40 partners from government, business, international organizations, civil society and farmer organizations.

Flagship initiatives supported by the alliance contribute to tangible impact on food systems in multiple ways, including promoting human health, planetary health, streamlining value chains, improving livelihoods and pushing forward country-led initiatives that strengthen local food systems.

"Food systems need to feed a growing population within planetary boundaries. The urgently required transformation of our food systems rests on effective multi-stakeholder collaboration. The Food Action Alliance provides a unique platform to facilitate this collaboration by bringing in a strong and diverse set of partners. It accelerates innovative food systems initiatives supporting national pathways, integration of value chains and ecosystem enablers."

Berry Marttin, Chair of the Food Action Alliance Steering Committee and Member of the Managing Board, Rabobank

For example, alliance partners in Southern Africa have supported the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) Poultry Solution, which aims to reach 10 million farmers in the region, 50% of which will be women and young agripreneurs. Results of these collaborations include developing a concrete concept note that highlights specific investment opportunities, building and engaging a group of 10+ supporting partners and gaining international leadership visibility through events. SACAU has mobilized multiple stakeholders in working groups on regional trade, livestock feed and consumer awareness to co-develop solutions. The alliance is involved in other value chain transformation initiatives including East African dairy through Dairy Nourishes Africa.

Have you read?

In the Colombian Amazon, the Sustainable Cattle Landscapes initiative supported the alliance, designed an initiative that aims at engaging livestock producers in a multistakeholder effort to develop deforestation-free value chains. By leveraging blended finance mechanisms together with traceability technology and monitoring tools, the project will link sustainable production and consumption while driving forest-friendly development at scale.

The Food Action Alliance, through its partner Grow Asia, is also supporting country-led initiatives such as the Viet Nam Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture (PSAV), which has successfully upskilled 2.2 million farmers and aims to provide 20 million farmers with the skills to learn and adapt to new agricultural standards. Viet Nam and its partners are now developing a Food Innovation Hub to help the country scale and accelerate a transformation into a powerhouse of green, sustainable, and low-emission agricultural products.

sustainable food system

Food Innovation Hubs are also active in India, Colombia, the Netherlands, and emerging in the United Arab Emirates.

How can you get involved?

Partners receive benefits through engaging with the Food Action Alliance, by scaling and accelerating partner-led initiatives, leveraging a vast network of partners and financing streams, and offering a leadership platform to showcase innovative and impactful partnership models that will transform the future of sustainable food.

Learn more about our work by reading the report Food Action Alliance: A leadership agenda for multi-stakeholder collaboration to transform food systems, which provides a roadmap toward delivering the SDGs.

If you are interested in joining the Food Action Alliance, contact us.

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Related topics:
Industries in DepthForum InstitutionalFood and WaterSustainable DevelopmentNature and BiodiversityClimate Action
Join us today and help shape a better future
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CargillFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)GAIN (Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition)International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)NestléPepsiCoRabobankSouthern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU)Syngenta GroupUnilever NetherlandsUPLWorld Farmers' OrganisationWWF InternationalYara International
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